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Archive for the ‘Go for Broke’ Category

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It is a sobering question that many Christians dread to hear someone ask: How could a loving God condemn those who have had no opportunity to respond to Christ?  Any Christian who has seriously pondered about his or her faith will sooner or later ask this very question.  How does one reconcile the proclamation made in the Bible that God is love and square that with the reality that there are people who will not go to heaven that might not have had an opportunity to respond?  I think a helpful way to navigate through this difficult issue is to think clearly of the relationship of various doctrines in the Bible pertaining to this issue.

If we are going to reconcile God’s love with people condemned by God we have to begin with why people are condemned in the first place: Sin.  Sin is any violation of God’s laws.  Since God is the Creator, He has the prerogative to require of his creation and specifically Creatures what He wants from them just like a potter can shape a pot the way the potter sees fit.  However as moral creatures humanity as a whole has chosen the path of sin.  Everyone has sinned; the Apostle Paul makes that clear in his epistle to the Roman church said “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Unfortunately the consequences of sin are grave, we read of the condemnation in the first half of Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death,”

It might sound strange but I think it is important to realize that God is a loving God even when he shows judgment against sinners.  He never punishes people beyond what they deserve.  Part of God being a loving God means that He will never falsely accuse people and punish them for things they did not do.  We would not say a court judge is good if he was arbitrarily punishing those before him for things they didn’t do.  Likewise, as paradoxical as it might sound, God’s love even for those who are condemned ensure no injustice would ever occur in His own judgment against sinners.  This of course means that God will judge us according to what we do know and rejected instead of what we are truly ignorant of.  Robert McQuilkin’s comment is helpful for us here:

Judgment is against a person in proportion to his rejection of moral light.  All have sinned; no one is innocent.  Therefore, all stand condemned.  But not all have the same measure of condemnation, for not all have sinned against equal amounts of light” (McQuilkin, 173).

I think it is also helpful to think of the relationship of God’s general revelation of Himself outside of Scripture that is accessible to all.  Paul told the Athenians in Acts 17:27 what the purpose of God’s general revelation in nature and history is: “that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”  It is so that we can respond to it by reaching out to God.  There is in some sense in which General revelation is a “bridge” to special revelation which content is the Bible, Jesus and salvation.  But Romans 1 reveal that as fallen human beings, our sinful inclination is to suppress the truth of God that is revealed all around us, rather than travel the road to further truth: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).  Note Romans 1:20 mentioned that we ought to know God even to the extent of His divine nature and power.  It suggests that humanity’s ignorance of God is a culpable ignorance in the same way that we ought to know the speed limit of the road we are driving.  Unfortunately because man suppresses the truth of General revelation this doesn’t help man come to know Jesus as Savior (apart from the Grace of God).

In closing I think it’s important to think more clearly concerning the relation of Jesus as Savior (which is a clear and concrete example of God’s love) versus mankind getting into sin and thus standing condemned.  We must not think that the problem lies with God providing salvation.  Salvation is due to His mercy and grace in the first place.  The problem is with man’s sin.  If I could use the traffic violation analogy from above, we cannot be focused on why some did not have the opportunity for traffic school when it is our traffic violations that makes us stand condemned before the traffic court in the first place.

 

Mentioned: McQuilkin, Robertson. 2009. Lost. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., 170-17

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Taking a break this Veteran’s Day friday evening from our regularly scheduled apologetics and theology blogging to remember those who served.  This is a 1951 movie that I recently found online and I was surprised that a movie like this was made in the early 50s and that it was made that close after the war.  If you don’t know anything about the Japanese American infantry unit known as the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, you ought to do a little online reading this weekend which would be more than appropriate for Veteran’s Day.  They are still today the most decorated Army unit on the record, with the highest casualty rate sustained by any unit.  And they were serving in a time when Japanese American loyalty were being questioned and their family held in internment camps back in the States which makes the amount of sacrifice shown by these brave men even more phenomenal.  I kind of wish a 21st century movie of this unit would have been made today of the quality of Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan.  I think it would sell.

I was struck with how the movie capture so much reality rather than being another sugar coat war propaganda movie: they did a good job showing the reality of racism, conveying GI culture, referencing specific things that’s Japanese American and made honest allusion to the reality of the internment camp experience.  That was probably the more surprising part of the movie, to see that being acknowledged back in the 50s!  The US government would acknowledge this sad chapter in American history in the 1980s (but that’s another subject, another post and another time!).  On the lighter side of things, I found it funny the movie’s reference to one of the guys being a graduate of USC (I’m a UCLA Bruin) and the small size of Asian infantryman.  As an American Marine of Asian descent, the last part struck a chord with me.  More than one time throughout the movie I was surprised at how it did not caricature Japanese American compared to other movies showing Asian during this time period.  I highly commend this movie in able to capture of slice of reality, conveying bravery and folly, sadness and humor, irony and patriotism with even a consciousness of civilians caught in the mix of war.  Well done film for it’s time.

Enjoy!  I just hope I didn’t hype it too much.

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